Gutierrez steps down as Lady Lions’ head coach
This past season, George Gutierrez led Ascension Christian to its most successful softball season in its program’s history.
Now, just a week removed from the Lady Lions making a run to Sulphur for the Softball State Tournament, Gutierrez is walking away from the team that he helped turn into a Division-IV championship contender.
Last week, Gutierrez decided to step down as Ascension Christian’s head softball coach, after coaching the program for four years.
He said that the decision was the result of health issues he’s dealt with since the fall. Back in September, Gutierrez underwent a prostatectomy, and he has struggled with complications from the surgery ever since.
“I thought I would be fully recovered by softball season in January. Well, I wasn't,” Gutierrez said. “I’m still having a long, hard and tough recovery. I was not physically 100 percent for the season. That bothered me. Luckily, I had some very good coaches that picked up the slack. So, I decided to step down to focus on getting myself well. Also, I'm not sure if I'm going to undergo any other type of procedures. It's only fair for the school, administration and softball program to have someone who is 100-percent healthy.”
Gutierrez took over as head coach at Ascension Christian in 2018, after being a longtime assistant under head coach Nancy Ensminger at Dutchtown.
In four years as the head coach at Ascension Christian, the Lady Lions went 49-30 overall and made three playoff appearances. The only year they didn’t make the postseason was in 2020, when the season was cancelled midway through due to COVID-19.
In 2019, Ascension Christian won 19 games and hosted a playoff game for only the second time in the program’s history.
And in 2021, the Lady Lions had the program’s most successful season.
Ascension Christian won its first-ever district championship as it took the District 7-1A crown.
The Lady Lions hosted a postseason game as a No. 3 seed in the Division-IV playoffs. They went on to win the program’s first-ever playoff game.
When Ascension Christian beat Cedar Creek in round two, the program reached the state tournament for the first time.
“First of all, I was surrounded with some very nice and supportive players, parents and administration. I really got along with everyone,” Gutierrez said. “When I first met with the team four years ago, our six seniors were freshmen at the time. I told them how fast the next four years would pass. Well, they now see what I was talking about. I emphasized to them to enjoy the game and the next four years may be the best four years they will remember.
“For myself, the last four years are on top of my softball memories. Taking our team to the state tournament and playing in a semifinal game will be something I will always hold close to my heart.”
Gutierrez is uncertain about what the future holds. But he did say that if he can get back to 100 percent, he’d like to stay in coaching.
“I told the school administration that I would like to stay connected to the softball program in one way or another--of course, depending on my health. I plan to discuss that option with the new head coach, when named. Or, if healthy, I may decide to start a new chapter in my softball career.”